Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let's Pardon Everybody!

If some people can be pardoned for breaking the law, why not pardon everyone? Let’s open all the prison doors and set everyone free. After all, America is the land of equality.

From If Criminal Penalties Are Removed, What Will Deter Lawbreaking by Political Officials? by Glenn Greenwald:

We already weighed the competing considerations between freedom and security and then enacted laws which authorized certain behaviors and criminalized others. If that balance should be altered, the solution -- in a society that lives under the rule of law -- is for the laws to be changed democratically, not for political leaders to decide at will and in secret that they will break those laws and then argue after the fact that the laws they broke were bad ones. Political leaders aren't vested with lawbreaking power. To the contrary, the Constitution explicitly requires that they "faithfully execute" those laws, not violate them at will.

Isn't this all so painfully basic? When the predominant Beltway argument is stripped of euphemisms, it amounts to nothing less than the claim that our political leaders should be -- and are -- free to break our laws. And that's the system we've adopted. It's why Dick Cheney feels free to smugly admit in public that he authorized these war crimes. He knows that the Ruth Marcuses of the world will intervene to defend him. Still, it's one thing to argue that American political leaders should have the power to commit crimes. It's another thing entirely to advance the insultingly deceitful and Orwellian claim that doing so is necessary so we can focus on preventing similar lawbreaking in the future.
Bush may pardon Cheney, and all the rest. I never will.

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